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The Big Link

Written and photography by Julie Raworth

As featured in Paddler magazine Sept 2022

Newbury Canoe Club members were keen to try sea kayaking and yet the club had no sea kayaks and no qualified sea kayaking coaches so the idea of working with another club was considered. British Canoeing’s James Hinves then introduced Newbury Canoe Club (NCC) to Poole Harbour Canoe Club (PHCC) and the first trip has been completed.

Heading into the great heatwave of 2022 twelve trepid Newbury Canoe Club paddlers made their way down to Poole Harbour to experience the joys of Sea kayaking with the support of Poole Harbour Canoe Club.

The meeting of 2 clubs also seemed popular with the PHCC as we were greeted by an almost matching number of members to paddle along with us. It was later disclosed that concern was expressed by PHCC when they reckoned their average age was at least 10 years older than our group and felt somewhat scared by our young fit team! However, this concern proved not to be warranted as, where we favoured age, they favoured years of experience and knowledge of sea kayaking, keeping us rounded up and safely supported throughout the entire trip.

After a team briefing and equipment allocation we started off from the club, based at the end

of Wareham Channel leading into the round of Poole of Harbour.

The first part of the trip was fairly calm giving everybody a chance to get into their flow. We meandered down the coastline around Long Island, Round Island, then South of Green Island and Furzey Island enjoying lots of bird life and navigating our way around sailing boats and luxury yachts. Disappointedly, 1 seal was spotted at their usual spot but only by those ahead of the pack.

With the NCC group tired and hungry they opted to stop for lunch at a top secret isolated piece of beach rather than carrying on to Brownsea Island. Whilst one of the PCC members gave us a history lesson of the Island over lunch others went for a paddle in the pleasantly warm sea. Some had childhood memories triggered by watching the crabs running around on the beach whilst others overcame their fears of toilettes au naturale!

The second part of the day changed pace as we headed further out to sea across to the famous Scout camp and National trust Brownsea Island. With cross winds this proved rather more choppy and a few whoops and squeals were heard. We all had to dig in and just keep paddling through it. Seeing other holiday makers just sitting on their kayaks at the edge of the Island, not venturing anywhere, I felt a great sense of pride for what we had all just achieved.

After a little rest the toughest part was about to come as we headed back up to the club across the middle of the harbour, I heard this was approx. 1km out to sea. I also heard that the wind was faster than they had anticipated, and the waves were pulling us all over the place. Steering in any kind of straight line was certainly a challenge, particularly those struggling with wonky boats (for once this was not driver but the boat as father and son switched and had the same issue!). People were getting tired and sore and I noticed a theme in my chats of how our ability to push our bodies is about ‘mind over matter’. The excitement and fun of paddling in the waves certainly helped overcome any fatigue. The boats and yachts we were having to stop for were getting more intimidating. In our pathway there seemed no way through the team of sailing boats all practising their twists and turns, so we veered around them instead. We all dug deep at the last stretch as the hut was now in sight.

Back at the club hosing the boats down of sea salt and sand was a refreshing activity along with the perfectly located ice cream van in the car park!.

Whilst somewhat sore everybody seemed to have had a fantastic experience. We would like to thank Adrian for organising the day for us and Paul and other club members for leading us safely on this 11.4 mile adventure.

Here’s to lots more future activities with PHCC, both home and away, and to new paddling friendships being formed.

Both clubs are now working to take the relationship further forward with NCC planning some marathon racing workshops for PHCC members.


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